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WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN AN ASPHALT SHINGLE AND METAL ROOF?


Asphalt shingle roofing is a dominant material for residences. However, metal roofing is surging in popularity as more aesthetic options become available. Now, there are metal shingles and panels that imitate materials like slate, tile, wood shake and even asphalt.

It’s important to navigate the pros and cons of each material before you decide which to use because this is a significant and long-term investment. Below we compare the two side-by-side in categories such as cost, durability and return on investment.

Metal is light, energy efficient and durable. It comes in a variety of formats and designs, including shingles, standing seam, and metal screw down. This makes it a versatile and appealing product.


Types of Metal Roofing


Tin Roof

  • Inexpensive

  • Pliable and easy to shape

  • No longer a common roofing material

  • “Tin roofing” is often used to describe steel or aluminum

Steel

  • Expensive

  • One of the most durable

  • Withstands expansion/contraction

  • Many options for finishes

Aluminum

  • Moderately priced

  • Most sustainable and recyclable

  • No Corrosion

  • Expands/Contracts Easily

Copper

  • Expensive

  • Natural, recyclable material

  • Can be soldered

  • Life expectancy up to 100 years

Zinc

  • Expensive

  • Natural, recyclable material

  • Soft and vulnerable to hail and impact

  • Pliable and easy to shape

  • Life expectancy up to 100 years

Seam Standing Metal

  • “Ribbed” appearance

  • Design allows for easy expansion and contraction

  • Can be made from steel, aluminum, copper or zinc

ASPHALT ROOFS


Asphalt shingles are the most popular roofing material. They are available in a variety of colors and textures, are low-cost and provide a traditional aesthetic.

Fiberglass core or matting, an asphalt coating and a ceramic or stone granule surface give this material its durability. The granules protect the shingles from climate conditions and UV rays.

Standard three-tab are the most common type of shingle, but laminated and architectural asphalt shingles are gaining popularity as they become more widely available.


Architectural Shingles

Architectural shingles, also known as “laminate” or “dimensional” shingles, are made up of the same elements as their traditional counterparts, but are heavier, thicker and more expensive.

They will last longer than three-tab products and have longer warranties. You’ll find them in a variety of colors and textures, some of which simulate wood and slate, and many homeowners are attracted to the “dimensional” effect of the mixed sizes of these shingles.

PROS & CONS OF METAL VS ASPHALT SHINGLE ROOFS

When it comes to these two materials, there are categories in which one or the other is clearly the best choice. But, there are also categories in which the choice comes down to preference.

The following guide addresses the advantages and disadvantages of metal roofing in general (rather than particular sub-types) versus three-tab asphalt shingles. This chart outlines the best options for major considerations and uses.

Which is Better: Metal or Shingle Roof?Metal is best for…Asphalt shingles are best for…VarietyAppearanceLongevityAffordabilityDurabilityLower Labor CostsResistance to ElementsDIYersPainting and SealingUniformity with NeighborhoodResale ValueEnergy Efficiency

Appearance


Metal PROS

  • Enough variety to find a color and style that complements any home.

  • Products available that imitate other materials for a non-metal appearance.

CONS

  • Strikes an “agricultural” tone and can look “out of place” in suburban areas.




Asphalt PROS

  • One of the most visually appealing options because there are enough color and texture options to find the style that complements your home.

  • More likely to be consistent with other houses in the area.

CONS

  • Dark tones due to the color of the surface granules.

  • Consistency with other homes may appear dull to some.



MOST VISUALLY APPEALING: ASPHALT

Variety


Metal PROS

  • There is a significant amount of variety available, from the type of metal to the color and the format (tile, shingle, panel, ribbed).

  • Some products imitate wood and asphalt.

CONS

  • Unique style options come at a higher price point.




Asphalt PROS

  • Come in a variety of colors

  • Options available that look like wood, such as cedar shake, and slate.

  • Several options for weight, pattern and size.

CONS

  • Most builders stick with standard colors, textures and shades because they are widely available and low-cost.



MOST OPTIONS AVAILABLE: METAL

Cost Comparison

Most roofing materials are priced by square (100 square feet) or by bundle (33.3 square feet). To see how these prices compare to those of alternatives like wood, clay and even solar, review our comprehensive guide to shingle roofing costs.

METAL Averages $180-$400 per square. For an average ranch home roof of 2,000 square feet, that’s $3,000-$6,000 before installation. ASPHALT Averages $90-$130 per square. For a 2,000 square foot roof, that’s $1,800-$3,400 before installation.

MOST AFFORDABLE MATRIAL: ASPHALT

Cheapest to Install

METAL

  • Metal roofs cost an average of $4,500 to $11,500including installation and materials.

  • Labor itself averages $300 to $500 per squareand $4,500-$7,500 for a 1,500 square foot roof.

ASPHALT

  • Asphalt shingle roofing costs $2,000 to $10,000for installation and materials.

  • Longer-lasting options tend to range higher, between $11,000 and $14,000.

  • Labor costs around $2-$3 per square foot, $200-$300 per square and $3,000-$4,500 for a 1,500 square foot roof.

LOWEST LABOR COST: ASPHALT



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